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Gainesville City Commission Looks At Cutting GRU Fund Transfer While Increasing Utility Rates Or Property Taxes

Gainesville mayor Lauren Poe at a November 2017 meeting. (WUFT News)
Gainesville mayor Lauren Poe at a November 2017 meeting. (WUFT News)

Possible changes to Gainesville electric bills may be coming in October.

Representatives from Gainesville Regional Utilities on Wednesday presented options to the Gainesville City Commission to discuss a possible reduction of the utility's General Fund Transfer, which helps fund city government in the amount of $38 million this year.

A proposed reduction would cut $6 million from GRU's transfer responsibility in order to keep an electric rate increase at 4 percent or less. A jump of 4 percent would mean an increase of about $3 on an average monthly electric bill. An alternative to raising electric rates could mean property tax millage would increase by almost a full mill.

GRU General Manager Ed Bielarski explained that lowering the transfer rate would lead to a lower increase on one's monthly bill.

"If you don't get the general fund transfer reductions, the rates go higher," he said. "It's simply a scale that goes up and down. That's what we were trying to present. I think the mayor and commissioners understood that. They have some weighty decisions that they have to consider."

This decision may lead to the City Commission cutting other services to meet the required General Transfer Fund amount.

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said funding city services would not be discussed until next week.

"We're not talking service cuts right now," he said. "We're talking about, at minimum, maintaining levels of service, but we don't get into those discussions with general government until next week."

The City Commission will have to reach a decision on what it wants GRU's General Fund Transfer to be by June 5. Any rate increases would take effect in October when the city's next fiscal year begins.

Camron is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by emailing or calling 352-392-6397.